Entertainment & Arts

Ladybird drops gender-specific children's book titles

Ladybird Books Image copyright Ladybird
Image caption Ladybird Books will now make gender-neutral children books

One of the leading children's publishers is to drop gender branding from its books after almost 100 years.

Ladybird Books will stop publishing books labelled "for girls" or "for boys".

It follows a campaign to encourage publishers to stop designating books for certain genders.

Ladybird has previously published books such as Ladybird Favourite Fairy Tales for Girls and Ladybird Favourite Stories for Boys.

Famed for its classic Peter and Jane reading scheme, Ladybird said it did not want to be seen "to be limiting children in any way".

Image copyright Ladybird
Image caption Favourite Stories for Boys is one of Ladybird's gendered titles

In a statement it said it was "committed" to avoiding gendered titles and will be removing such labelling in reprinted copies.

"Out of literally hundreds of titles currently in print, we actually only have six titles with this kind of titling," it said.

It is the seventh publisher to commit to the Let Books Be Books campaign which is urging "boys" and "girls" labels to be removed to enable children to choose freely what kind of story and activity books interest them.

Image copyright Ladybird
Image caption Ladybird will remove gender labelling in reprinted copies

Ladybird, which is part of the Penguin Random House Children's division, said it had been in discussions with the campaigners as part of its decision.

The campaign group, which believes gender titling is "limiting and restrictive", has gained more than 6,500 signatures on a petition to challenge publishers to remove their labelling.

It said titles like "The Beautiful Girls' Book of Colouring" or "Illustrated Classics for Boys" sends the message certain books are off-limits for girls or for boys, and promote limiting gender stereotypes.

"How can a story or a colouring page be only for a girl or only for a boy? A good book should be open to anyone, and children should feel free to choose books that interest them," its petition reads.

Other publishers who have said they will no longer publish books labelled for boys or girls include Usborne, Parragon, Chad Valley and Dorling Kindersley.

Launched in Leicestershire in the 19th Century, Ladybird has published millions of illustrated books in the UK, covering everything from history, science and fairytales to, more recently, e-books and popular brands such as Peppa Pig and Hello Kitty.

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